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You may be surprised by the number of parents who don't bother to have basic smelly/unsmelly conversations with their kids, and what a difference it can make. You're right that hygiene isn't in a boy's vocabulary, which is why parents need to put it there. We wouldn't send our kids off to camp without the knowledge that teeth-brushing prevents bad breath and is vital to good health, yet when it comes to taking showers and changing clothea after a hard day of swimming and shooting and climbing and cooking and sweating like crazy, that convo often doesn't happen. I know I had to be told to get some deodorant when my body started to mature.
Yeah, when it come to their own stench, boys' sense of smell seems to develop later than their sweat glands. I remember sitting in camp with a bunch of guys when one started sniffing the air, then his own arm pit with a big PHEWWWW!
"You know," my old Scoutmaster told him, "when you can smell yourself, the rest of us have been smelling you for three days."
Ahhh...gang showers...what memories. We still have those cinder block shower houses, but the kids shower in their bathing suits now. Not sure when this modesty thing started. We used to have to take gang showers after PE in school, too. Now the shower rooms are used for storage. When they built a ladies's addition to the shower houses, they put in individual stalls with shower curtains. I don't understand that, either.
Like bathroom stalls, women are use to seperated showers, not gang showers.. Just a gender thing.. Most health clubs do the same thing, you may have gang showers for guys (or not) but the women will have seprate showers.
My kid KNOWS that he stinks after a weekend in the woods. They don't do showers at weekend campouts and there's not much he can do about it. He knows to undress in the laundry room (straight off of the garage) and run to the shower before hugging me.
However, for the week summer camp, he told me he would do his best to shower, but sometimes they keep those kids SO busy (to prevent homesickness) that there really isn't any time. When your day starts at 6:30AM (at the flag pole) and ends at 11:00PM (after the patrol leader meeting), sometimes there's not any time. However, I feel it is up to the SPLs to dedicate an hour to shower time. Peer pressure ends up getting to most of them.
However, whoever posted that girls are a big incentive, was right. And there aren't any girls at summer camp (thank God!)
Many, many years ago, I was bringing a group of scouts home, after a weekend campout. Three scouts were sitting in the van's bench seat behind me, playing cards and laughing. They were enjoying themselves, and I did not pay them any mind, because I was driving and talking to the other adult in the passenger seat.
All of a sudden, I smelled something really bad! I look down, and the scout sitting behind me, had his boots and socks off.
"What are you doing?"
"We are playing a game of strip pocker!"
"I do not care what you are doing. Put your socks and boots back on."
I kind of expect them to come home dirty and stinky. The showers at most of our camps have hot water for about 1 minute, just long enough to get good and wet, but not long enough to get wet, soap up and then rinse off without freezing. so even if they go into the showers, they never seem to stay long enough to get clean.
Both of my sons their whole life before bed put on a clean tshirt and underwear and clean socks if it's sock wearing weather. so they continue that at summer camp. So even if they don't actually shower much at all, they won't smell absolutely like sweaty butt and old socks when they come home.
My 12 year old went to a week of summer camp with 7 pairs of clean tshirt, socks and unders, and came home with 1 of each that weren't used. That's cause Friday night before leaving camp they decide to sleep under the stars and take down tents early. so he didn't want to change clothes out there in the open I guess.
Of course all the kids will allergies and asthma came home coughing and wheezing from sleeping out in the dusty camp without tents to cut down on the allergens a bit.
Despite a troop swim in the lake, and despite a mandatory shower on Wednesday, parent night, and despite having to put on a uniform shirt every night for dinner and retreat, one of my co-leaders noticed on Thursday that one of my scouts had been wearing the same t-shirt all week. It was a troop t-shirt and so it wasn't one that would catch the eye.
The scout assured us he had been changing his socks and underwear daily -- just not his shirt. I didn't bother asking why because I figured no explanation would really make me any wiser.
Our boys take at least 2 showers at summer camp. On Wednesday for Family Night and on Troop Swim night. If a scout chooses not to swim, he is still expected to come to the pool with us and at least take a shower.
Our council camp's equipment list does not list deodorant! I made sure to add that to our troop list of summer camp equipment, and I ask the parents to stress deodorant use with their boys.
I also recommend that boys bring dryer sheets for refreshing scout shirts, helping foot lockers/duffel bags smell better, and for stuffing in their shoes when not being worn. Just be sure not to wipe a "stinky shoe" dryer sheet on your scout shirt!